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October 21, 2006

Exercise and Sports, Insulin Pumps

Question from Crestline, California, USA:

My 14 year old son is on the cross country team. He runs six to seven miles a day and is generally very active. His blood sugars are crazy, lows and very highs. I am working with the nurse practitioner and sending his blood sugars in to check. He checks approximately 10 times a day. We have run into sites that kink and he has been changing them daily, sometimes twice in one day. He is trying the Silhouette shorts to see if they make a difference. Is this common with people that tend to be more active? Should we be considering going back to syringes? Is there a place or information you can direct me to in making that decision? I am asking the endocrinology team I am working with this same question. I ask the question to you as well because we are just trying to work this out and my motto is "the more ideas, the better." My son is becoming frustrated and I want to try to avoid a downward spiral. Is there an exercise physiologist that could help that specializes in the combination of adolescents growth and intense activity?

Answer:

Using an insulin pump usually makes it much easier to control large swings in blood glucose levels due to the frequency of basal insulin delivered (about every three minutes) and the ability to increase or decrease insulin around exercise.

Kinking of the canula or the part of the infusion set that sits below the skin can be a problem for some athletes. Trying different areas of the body (using the top of the buttocks as opposed to the abdomen) is one suggestion. One of the more common sets, an angled one (Silhouette or Comfort), offers shorter canula lengths which may help prevent kinking. For lean athletes, this may be a good way to go. There are even needle sets still available if all else fails. It would be almost impossible to have a needle set kink.

RP

[Editor’s comment: You may wish to review our page on Infusion Sets.

BH]